Now that the Masters is over, the next major golf championship is the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash., south of Tacoma and perched in the hills above the Puget Sound.
Our Boise State team had the opportunity to play Chambers Bay last week for an event hosted by Seattle University.
Chambers Bay is not your typical American-style golf course. It is a links-style course much like what you would see in Scotland.
The thing that differentiates Chambers Bay from overseas courses is the length. Most courses overseas have long holes downwind, with the short ones going into the wind. This golf course has long holes everywhere.
From the back tees, it can play almost 8,000 yards. For our tournament, we played it just shy of 7,400 yards — and it was still brutally long.
On Sunday (April 5), we had our practice round and got our first look at the course. We took in the views of the Puget Sound and wrote notes on the course. We woke up around 5:30 a.m. Monday, ate breakfast and hit the links. Our first day was 36 holes with no break in between. We teed off at 8 a.m. and finished at 7 p.m.
Luckily we caught some awesome weather, and it was mostly sunny and in the high 50s. Still, we were all dead tired and headed back to the hotel to get some much-needed rest. We woke up the next day to an overcast, windy and rainy day. Typical Pacific Northwest weather — and now this already-long course was playing even longer.
After our first day, we were in eighth place out of 18 teams, but only a few shots out of third. I shot 76-73, which put me in a tie for 34th out of 92 players. As a team, we didn’t play our best the second day and dropped from eighth to ninth place. It was tough conditions and really tested not only our golf game, but the mental side as well.
The length of this golf course — and the mental game it forces you to play — will be one of the most difficult challenges for players in the U.S. Open. For example, I hit the ball around 320 yards in Boise, and I couldn’t reach a couple of the par 4s in two in our tournament’s final round, The only two par 5s are 600-plus yards and only reachable with two near-perfect golf shots.
I can’t wait to watch the best golfers in the world try to tackle this same monster course we just played. The competition in June will be compelling, but it’s also a big deal for the Pacific Northwest to be hosting a major championship. The last major the region hosted was the PGA Championship in 1998 at Sahalee Country Club east of Seattle.
For the most part, all major tournaments on the PGA Tour are East Coast-based. It is a great opportunity for Northwest golfers to get out and watch the best players in the world tee it up at a regional course.
It will be an exciting U.S. Open, and very much different than we are all accustomed to watching. I can’t wait to see how the pros play the course and what scores they turn in. I will be surprised if anyone is under par after four rounds.